Student Binders for notes and assignments

Discussion in 'High School' started by Miss L, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Miss L

    Miss L Rookie

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    Jul 8, 2008

    I wanted to get your opinion on something...

    I'm thinking of adopting a method my high school chemistry teacher used while I was a student (although, I teach History).

    He had us each keep a binder for the class, with one section dedicated to notes and another to assignments. As he handed out assignments throughout the year (worksheets, quizzes, tests, labs, etc.) each came to us holepunched and with a number on the top right corner. The numbers obviously went in order as each assignment was passed out.

    This allowed us to stay on top of our organization (everything was in ONE place and in it's proper order). He also kept his "Master Binder" in the classroom where he kept blank assignments in order so that we could constantly check to make sure we were up to date/missing something/etc.

    He also went over each assignment after he graded it and handed it back so that we could correct our answers. Every now and then he would have a 'binder quiz' with questions such as "On document #17, what is the diagram in the bottom corner depicting?" or "On document #9, what is the equation and solution to number 3?"

    This allowed us easy points for staying organized AND it forced us to review our material.

    I'm thinking about starting this with my 10th grade US Studies students next year but I am not sure if I'm getting in over my head. My students were severely lacking in the organization department and I got tired of being asked a million times for worksheets, answers, etc. I think this may help them

    (note: I am VERY VERY organized, I color code everything -folders, binders, etc. - haha I'm obsessed) so I'm not worried about that aspect of things.

    THANKS for your advice!!:thanks:
     
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  3. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Jul 8, 2008

    I am thinking about doing something similar with my ecology students. I feel that it is important for them to learn how to be organized. I really like the idea of numbering the pages. I am not always the most organized, but I figure a responsible student could keep tabs on what page each worksheet should be.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Here's some feedback from a parent of a student and tutor of students who had such 'binder checks' in middle school: they cause stress. The kids who are naturally organized will keep up with it. The kids who are not organized are going to be pulling their hair out. Seriously, who cares what the diagram on page 17 is depicting? If you really want to know if the kids know the content of what you are teaching- assess THAT. Many kids are disorganized and still good learners. Many teachers have messy desks and are still great teachers (I'm one of those)...If my principal instituted arbitrary clean desk checks or filing cabinet checks I'd be stressed and my job performance might suffer- Color coding, filing systems, numbered tabs- that works for some people. It doesn't work for others. Why penalize kids who aren't the same 'learning style/organization style' as you? Kids who are disorganized and not learning content are double jeapordized. Kids who do well on tests, homework and class participation should not be penalized for having messy notebooks. The only kids who benefit are the organized ones- they'll get points for neat binders regardless of whether or not they have a handle on understanding the content...Just my :2cents:
     
  5. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Jul 8, 2008

    I sort of agree, but: do you ever want to get organized? Do you feel like it is a skill that you lack? I ask because I think that if we teach organization earlier we might be able to prepare kids to be more successful in school and in their future job/life. the key is that you have to tell them why they are organizing and to give them a chance at some point to have a system that works for them (usually developed in college). Most jobs would not allow you to have your own style of organization unless you were truly able to get the paper you need at a moments notice. Clients/bosses don't really approve of the "I have to look for that" line for more than a few mistakes. Teachers have the rare experience of being the only person in the room who knows that this is plan B because I couldn't find the (insert anything) needed for this lesson in time to use it today.

    MissL: I think it is a great start to encourage organization and a good method to show students how to organize a class notebook. They will need the skill for college!
     
  6. tiki7719

    tiki7719 Companion

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    Jul 9, 2008

    Hi MissL:

    I'm in Ohio as well and studying to teach HS History :)

    I think the binder idea is great. I had that in my chemistry class as well in HS and I took that organization skill and am using it to this day in college. I know where everything is and I'm able to find it when necessary.

    I think the only way you are going over the top is by helping your students prepare for the future :)

    What's the harm if you try it out for a few years to see how it goes? You won't know until you try.
     
  7. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    Jul 9, 2008

    I also believe it is a good idea. I would also allow for suggestions for improvement from students... that way multiple ideas can be shared and students can vote on which methods work well for them.
    To me it would have been alot easier to have an automatic system that i could tweek rather than having to start from scratch.
     
  8. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jul 9, 2008

    As a parent of a student who is frighteningly disorganized, I think it's a wonderful idea. Since kindergarten (she's now in 8th grade), the number one complaint from her teachers has been her lack of organization. In middle school, her grades have suffered because of it.

    This year, she had a teacher do something similar to what you are describing, and while it was stressful for her, she kept up with her stuff! Last year she would receive zeros for assignments she had done (assignments I had WATCHED her do!), but she would lose before the due date. Her school is on an a/b block, so organization is even more critical.

    I think we have to teach these soft skills. If I complain that my students can't manage their time, but I haven't shown them how, then I can't be surprised when they continue to fail to manage their time. These are the transferable employment skills that every student will need.
     
  9. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    I make my students keep a three ring binder with all class materials in it. Once a quarter, I grade the notebook. All assignments, notes, etc should be in there. To make it easier on myself, I kept a list of everything that I gave them that should be in it. When grading them, I just checked the items off as I found them. I used this as a test grade as a motivational tool to encourage them to maintain the notebook. I made sure I told them every time I passed something out to put it in the notebook.
    I explained to the kids that this could do nothing but help them. What if I forgot to record a grade on an assignment that they completed and turned in? Just pull it out and show it to me and I will fix it. What if you need notes for this test? They are in there.
     
  10. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jul 9, 2008

    Even though I use a modified ISN (basically I don't do the left/right thing but still use many of the acitivities and notes) I still have them include all ISN materials with all worksheets in their binder by unit. I grade binders at the end of each unit for a quiz grade. (Sometimes I make this seperate of their grade).
     
  11. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    Jul 10, 2008

    I think this is a great idea and I just may steal it. I personally would have benefited from something like this in high school. My eight grade teacher actually wrote on my report card "Sumnerfan has such potential if she would just get orgainized." It's still a struggle and something I literally have to force myself to do. I also really like the idea of numbering the assignments and the quizzes instead of grading notebooks.
     
  12. OrangeBlossum

    OrangeBlossum Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2008

    Just curious.... how many of you grade notebooks?

    I recommend keeping a neat notebook and being organized, but I don't grade student notebooks because I don't think not being an organized person should penalize. I explain how organization is helpful.. and remind them of such throughout the semester.
     
  13. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    Jul 10, 2008

    I don't grade notebooks because it's a pain but I will also say that in the past I have made polite recommendations and they have gone unheeded. My students really need to keep their things because we refer back frequently to things we studied before. I think the original poster's idea would help me with this problem.
     
  14. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Jul 10, 2008

    Last year I tried to grade notebooks - but it was such a nightmare! I could not grade them all in a timely fashion. Among some of the changes I will make I will do some sort of spot check this year. No mountain of notebooks to wade through.
     
  15. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jul 10, 2008

    My entire department does. (32 of us between the High School and Middle School).
     
  16. ILikeEnglish

    ILikeEnglish Rookie

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    Hello, I see you are a HS English teacher. I will be ST in HS English this fall. I am curious what you do in your English classroom - do you have a binder system like those described here?
     
  17. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I'm in a unique situation. All of my students have tablet PCs, and their "notebooks" are in the program OneNote, and all of their assignments are saved and submitted through an online class management program called LMS/Angel (it's like Blackboard and Moodle, if you know them). My students use no paper at all.

    I'm probably not the best one to answer your question because my situation is nowhere close to the norm.

    Other English teachers, do you have words of advice for her?
     
  18. ptlanguage

    ptlanguage Rookie

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    Miss L: I agree that the binder is an excellent idea to teach the kids to be organized. I handle my binders just like midwestteacher. Because I am an organizational freak too, I will give you one piece of advice to help you keep your sanity. With your kids that are unorganized--don't feel this binder idea has failed if you do not see a lot of progress in them. I don't understand why they will not take advantage of an opportunity to stay organized--especially since I give them time in class to put things in their binder and every once in awhile we will check to see if everything is in its place. Some of your kids still will not be organized. Or and here is another thing, LOL, on the day the kids give you their binders for a grade...you will have some come to you with a pile of papers and a binder and say, "where does all this stuff go!" Provide this great opportunity for the kids, but don't feel like a failure if they do not follow through. Just food for thought.
     
  19. ILikeEnglish

    ILikeEnglish Rookie

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    Very cool. I've used Blackboard a lot in college classes. Just curious - is your school public or private?
     
  20. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    It's a public school. I'm at the alternative high school in our district for the students who are really behind in credits.
     
  21. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I teach 12th grade English. My students use old-fashioned composition notebooks for in-class writing and vocabulary work. I'm much happier with this than any other notebook system I've used before, because the pages don't fall out! I stamp vocabulary homework regularly - just a quick trip around the room to note completion - and I collect and grade notebooks about once a quarter. Sometimes there are specific assignments within the notebooks that I will grade. The overall notebook gets a check, check plus, or check minus. A check is full credit, 10 out of 10. A check plus gets an extra point for exceptional neatness and completeness. A check minus is worth 8 the first time, 7 the second, etc. - after the first time I expect them to get with the program, and if they don't the penalty increases.

    Since I have four classes of 38, this is a lot of grading, but I've gotten good at the quick flip-through. I collect them in crates so that I can keep the classes separate.
     
  22. ILikeEnglish

    ILikeEnglish Rookie

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    Sounds like a good system. I am glad to hear that you've gotten good at grading quickly but thoroughly. That is one area of concern for me. Sometimes I talk to teachers and the time they spend on grading is really huge - especially in English classes where lots of writing takes place. By the way, classes of 38 must be a real challenge!
     
  23. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    ILikeEnglish, I would recommend Kelly Gallagher's book on teaching adolescent writers - he's a high school teacher with great ideas on grading writing. I wish I had discovered him earlier, but I am definitely using some of his techniques this year. The big key it to NOT copy-edit your students' papers, which takes a lot of discipline for English perfectionists! :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  24. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    God bless you, OB! Teaching organization skills is to be applauded. I would even accept bonus points for an organized notebook but penalizing kids for missing page 17 or not having the diagram in the correct section as suggested in other posts...that's just stressful. I am not the most organized person by standards that are upheld by my more anal, organized peers- I can however find what I need quickly, deliver instruction without disruption and do so in a highly effective manner. I know teachers who are MUCH MORE organized than me but you wouldn't want your child in their classroom. Be organized and color coordinated and alphabetized if it works for you- teach kids how to organized their work and materials (and reward them for it if you want) but realize that different organization styles work for different students. :angel:
     
  25. ILikeEnglish

    ILikeEnglish Rookie

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    Thank you! I will have to check that out. And you are right on about English perfectionists - there are many of us out there!
     
  26. Lindsay.Lou

    Lindsay.Lou Companion

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    Jul 11, 2008

    I am definitely doing this with my 9th grade World History class this year. I consider organization one of the "life skills" that teachers should teach. A life skill that has the potential to help them enormously in future endeavors.

    I love the idea of numbering worksheets & handouts!
     
  27. kimberly121

    kimberly121 Rookie

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    I will be a 1st year teacher this fall and want to implement the notebook/journal for my students.

    Do you provide the notebooks or do you require your students to purchase them?
     
  28. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I ask the students to purchase them, which generally isn't a problem in my area, but I always point out that if anything I require is a financial hardship for anyone, they should see me privately and I will take care of it.
     
  29. kimberly121

    kimberly121 Rookie

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    I will be working in a school with 50% of the students in financially challenged households. I was considering purchasing the notebooks for everyone, unless they had a preference and then they could bring their own in for a couple extra credit points.
     
  30. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    You could buy spirals, which are less expensive, but I find that they don't hold up well. You can usually get a composition book for about $2, sometimes less. They last better, especially if you invest in a roll or two of Duck tape and let the kids reinforce the corners and the binding - Michael's has it in all kinds of yummy colors.
     
  31. kimberly121

    kimberly121 Rookie

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    Oh that's a great idea. In the long run, a bound composition book will last much longer, especially with duct tape in school colors. :) I think Walmart has them on sale this week...
     

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